Spring cleaning. Sigh. Am I the only one who has a love/hate relationship with this term?
So what do I love about it? Having a clean, organized house, of course! That’s it. What do I hate about it? Compiling a long, detailed list only to fail miserably when there’s not enough time to do everything. To be honest, on a weekly basis, I barely have enough time to clean my house to a satisfactory, pre-children level. It seems the only surface in my house that’s consistently clean are my floors – thanks, Roomba (totally worth the investment)! So the question remains, where am I supposed to find these unaccounted hours to complete an overhaul of my house while combating the daily chaos of motherhood?
At the beginning of the year, my sister-in-law shared a photo that listed New Year’s intentions. In case you don’t know (I didn’t!), intentions are different than resolutions in that they are more about self-awareness and being. Intentions have the power to change your lifestyle, whereas resolutions are typically short-term goals.
When I saw the photo listing out sample intentions, one of them really struck a chord with me: more space, less stuff. I know this may sound naive, but I never really thought of the fact that more stuff, more things, takes away so much space in our lives. At that moment, I knew that was an intention made for me. I wouldn’t even consider myself someone who has a lot of “stuff”, but I do love space and it always seems to be a hot commodity in our house.
Having a full-time job and being a full-time mom doesn’t leave much time to work on this intention, but I’ve learned it’s about setting goals and managing expectations. This is exactly why the typical spring cleaning doesn’t work for me. So this year, I started my “spring” cleaning in January and created a plan, spreading it out throughout the entire year. Each weekend, as time allows, I tackle one, very defined area of my house to clear out the stuff. I know that I don’t have the time to tackle any large projects (naps are only so long!), so small, frequent wins are it.
My first weekend, I tackled the hall closet. In our house, this is pretty much a catch all of coats, cleaning supplies, winter weather gear and vacuum cleaner attachments. I mean, really, what does one do with all these extra vacuum cleaner parts? I was tired of being pelted with gloves and winter hats while standing on my tippy toes, searching for the one item I needed, which without doubt, would be found in the very bottom of the crate. Into the trash went all the gloves without a match. All our old coats, hats and scarves went into a donation bag. I was even able to clear out enough space to dedicate one crate exclusively for my extra vacuum attachments. Seriously though, why do we have so many??? I bought each of us a small tote for our winter gear and separated them out, so now we all have a personalized bin and can find exactly what we’re looking for. This closet is one of the smallest spaces in our house, but after an hour of work, I truly felt accomplished. My weekend chore was complete and I already felt lighter in stuff.
The next weekend, I decided I’d muster up the energy and work on our master bathroom. This was definitely a larger project than I really wanted, but it had been bothering me over the past several weeks, so I dove in. Now, we by no means have a large master bathroom, but I somehow left that room with two full garbage bags of nothing but junk. I walked out of there victorious – a bag in each hand, feeling like a super-mom, my cape waving in the non-existent wind in our upstairs hallway. My husband did a quick glance over of my work and simply replied, “Wow, that all came from the bathroom? It doesn’t even look that different in there.” Normally, a comment like this would get under my skin, but the truth was, he was right. Where had all of this stuff been hiding? It definitely looked tidier, but even though it pretty much looked the same, I felt great. Another project tackled and more space created.
There’s been many more spaces and many more victories, and I’m proud of myself for all the progress I’ve made in our house this year. I’d love to say I’ve hit every goal and stuck to my original schedule, but as we all know, life happens. We’ve had celebrations of birthdays and graduations, houseguests and many other events where I had to decide to cut myself some slack and enjoy the people around me instead. Typically, I would be frustrated with myself for failing on a goal, but like I said, this is an intention; a lifestyle change. These things take time.
My plan is always evolving, and I’m okay with that. We will inevitably get more toys for birthdays and holidays, new kitchen gadgets and updated electronics. Things will break and need replaced and the cycle will continue. There will be times I fall behind, and times I feel ahead. Wherever I stand, it’s important to always remember by creating more space, I’m creating more space for memories with my family.